Front Line – November 4th, 2016
Today we went to the front line – this is the camp that is closest to the digging of the pipeline – but the front line has been pushed back – and they are trying to inch their way back to the digging. We visited with women and men that have been there a week and they are waiting for reinforcements who should be arriving soon. Now that I know where the front line is, I can easily see their teepees from Media Hill. We asked them how we could help. They need shin guards (made from hardback books – they promise to return them) and shields ( made from the tops of storage bins). My son is making the shields now. He was given gas mask hoses that he can use to create handles on the shields. We went to the school to pull any hard back books that might not be in good shape (water logged). The front line has two canoes (or maybe a kayak I can’t remember). The shields are necessary to deflect the rubber bullets and the bean bags. As I write I’m talking to a young man who was on the front line and he shows us a large bruise on his chest from one of the bean bags. He says they were shooting rubber bullets and bean bags from a boat as they tried to make a bridge in order to get across Cannonball River and pray. He says that one day, when 140 got arrested, the police shredded his tent, and everyone else’s.
We worked in the school today as well. We organized books, getting ready for the move to a more spacious spot for the kids – typically 25 or so a day. I’m hoping I can help teach on Monday (once it’s moved) if they need me.
Tomorrow morning there is suppose to be a Sun Dance very early at the bridge. I’m going to get up and head there to see it. This camp, Oceti Sakowin, is a place full of kindness, constant music, and friendship. Sam is digging a fire pit for us right now. We haven’t had a shovel and one suddenly appeared allowing Sam to dig the hole. It’s freezing at night. I can’t feel my toes. Today an extra blanket is suddenly inside my tent.
If I need food, there is food. If I need medical assistance, there are medics. Everywhere I turn there is someone to help. I think about the children I taught last year in the Aurora Public Schools and the lack of resources available to them. Yet, here, we have a group of people who have come together, and you do not want for anything. Therefore, you can focus your attention on the task at hand – the task being, how to save the water – as water is life. I wonder how my students could have focused, if they had all the resources, plus the beautiful land, river and sky that surrounds me now?
At the front line today we can see the “police cars” – but I am told they are not police – it’s hard to discern who is in those cars – military – private security – mercenaries? There are flood lights facing the front line. When I point to the lights I am asked not to point. The front line says they turn on the lights to watch them.
Our neighbors at the camp site have invited us to dinner, have given us insights into how to help, what to send back to the front line, and simply how to “be” at this camp. Sam is busy trying to use rebar to melt holes in the bin covers to create shields. Not sure we can get it done tonight and back to the front line this evening, but for sure tomorrow morning. They need more people at the front line. And they need the media. I have not seen CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS – you name it, I’ve seen no one that will push it out to mainstream media. It’s disgusting – and it makes it clear that once again, in this country, there will be no taking back our humanity unless the people push to do so.
We talk a lot about humanity, the greed of capitalism and how our lives have been bombarded with pictures, phrases, stories, and symbols all meant to keep us passive and rabid consumers. Here, we don’t consume – here we are focused on how to give back – how to support one another. Access to social media is found briefly on Media Hill via solar panels. I trek up there twice a day to check in with my family and send out pictures and writing. Other than that, we’re busy working and making face to face connections – we are talking and trying to find inspiration in the words and stories of others. There is empathy here, and a determined sense of hope. More tomorrow.
Sam has been asked to be the coordinator for the school move. He’s immersed in the work here.